Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Making More Vacations In Your Life

August is the time for vacations and relaxation. "Where did you go this summer?" is the big question on people's lips come back-to-school time. But do you ever get back still feeling like you need a vacation? Or feeling like once a year just isn't enough?

We live pretty jam-packed lives these days. We work hard, we run around to get it all done and cram it all in. Most of us only get two weeks vacation these days, if we're lucky. Well, what if that's just not enough?

Stress lowers our immune function dramatically and contributes to the development of many common medical problems - cardiovascular disorders and diseases, high blood pressure, skin issues, weight gain, diabetes, lowered immune defenses, chronic pain and even infertility. Yikes!

Stepping back from daily life to relax is one of the number one things you can do for yourself.

Think about the last time you got some quality relaxation time. How did you feel afterwards? How was your productivity, energy, focus, patience, awareness, attitude, motivation? So much better, right?

My relaxation space. (Even the cat chooses to relax here.)
So how can we create more vacation experiences in our lives so that we can have more of the good life all of the time?

1. Create a retreat space in your home. My aunt told me of a quote she'd heard on Oprah that "Your home should rise up to greet you." - and it's one of those things that hit the nail on the head for me. Your home - or a space in your home, at the very least - should be a place where you can feel safe, relaxed, inspired and refreshed (everything I want from a good vacation!). Create that space, even if it's just an armchair in a corner, where you can unwind, reflect and get some perspective.

2. Plan mini self-care or relaxation-based day-trips. Prioritize them. Leave the rest of the day open. Don't rush. Pack a picnic for a nice, long, slow hike. Go for a spa day with your friends. Bring a blanket and find a field to lay in. Keep it simple, but make plans and stick to them (no plan is a plan too)! Invite people who help you relax and unwind - and let them know that that's the point. You'll all be grateful you did.

3. Spend time in nature. Notice the changing of the seasons. Notice that you, too, are a natural creature who is always in flux, going through cycles and rhythms, experiencing shift, change... erosion, even. Smell the air, listen to the birds and the wind. Be present. Climb mountains. Spend time at the peak, enjoying the view.

4. Try meditation and mindful breathing, the ultimate "vacation anywhere" tools, as far as I can tell. For me, they are techniques that help me get curious about the barrage of thoughts going on in my head, while grounding me in the rhythm of my breathe and the present moment. Even when it's noisy and busy all around, it's about knowing you hold a sanctuary within.

Relaxing, grounding yourself, and getting perspective is what improves the goodness factor in the rest of your life. This is why we owe it to ourselves, our families, friends and coworkers to take some time for ourselves. When we feel recharged, refreshed and energized, we show up as the best version of ourselves.

How do you create mini step-back vacation experiences in your every day? How to you relax and get perspective?

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